Traditional vs. Digital Journalism

Journalism has been a part of communities and society since the early 1600s. And prior to that, news was spread primarily by word of mouth. But true journalism meant that the news was to be reported as accurately as possible. As more papers went to print, competition to deliver the biggest headlines ahead of anyone else evolved and still exists today. Newspapers were the primary source of detailed news throughout the 1600’s clear through to the 1920’s when a Detroit station aired what is believed to be the first radio news broadcast (Abell). Now people had a choice. Even in its earliest stages of radio news, publishers worried that radio would eventually take over news reporting and diminish the need for printed news. However, this first round of digital vs. traditional did little to stop the public’s need for reading the news.

When the television was invented in 1927, it did not initially make a dent in the newspaper business. It wasn’t until the first television news broadcast of 1947 that newspaper publishers began to realize that their print news may begin to lose its audience, especially as the television soon became a staple in more homes in America.

Notwithstanding TV News throughout this time remained important for catching up on the news, but the printed newspaper itself was still popular among most American homes clear up to the 1980’s when the first cable news network, CNN was launched in 1980. Now people had a choice of getting their news when they wanted it and seeing breaking news firsthand. The newspaper was relegated to more detailed stories that people already knew about, and local news and entertainment, or use in the occasional civics class.

Two years after CNN, the entire world would be introduced to the Internet, the World Wide Web. Only a few with insight into the future could imagine how the Internet would explode to the communication giant it is today, and even less could believe how important it has become in everyday life in 2021. Would the Internet finally be the nail in the Newspaper’s coffin?

In 2009, there was a study conducted on the amount of people that use digital vs tradition journalism called Pew Public Evaluation. The study indicated that “in terms of local news there are still more than 40 percent of people who receive their local news from newspapers, while 17 percent read their local news online” (Speakman 1).

The question now becomes; which is better and is more important?

There are two common sides to the traditional vs digital journalism debate. The most popular opinion is that traditional journalism is too old school and would not be missed if it died out. The other most popular opinion is that digital journalism is much more prevalent in todays society. People want their news at the touch of a button.

Whether or not the traditional newspaper will truly go out of business remains to be seen. Digital media is by far more rapid, more readily available, and more easily accessible to anyone with a cell phone. On the other hand, the digital age has also opened up a whole other universe where journalism has been pushed aside for the sake of sensationalism and even rumors. The true journalist is lost in the burgeoning world of Internet news. The print news may not be as popular as it once was, but local news, obituaries, sports, comics, want ads, and even the crossword puzzle still provide a solace from the virtual overload of the digital age. As long as there are people who enjoy the feel of paper between their fingers as they catch up on the local news, it is doubtful that newsprint will truly ever go extinct.

Stay tuned for part 2 of Traditional vs. Digital Journalism!


Works Cited

Abell, John. “Aug. 31, 1920: News Radio Makes News.” Wired, 4 June 2017, http://www.wired.com/2010/08/0831first-radio-news-broadcast.

Speakman, B. (2011). Print vs Online Journalism. Retrieved March 05, 2021, from https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1022&context=journalismdiss

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